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Original copy, the title of Scelsi's song cycle possibly refers to the fact that the sign of the Capricorn corresponds with an area of the Earth stretching from India to South America and includes, most significantly, the Amazon. The Amazon, as Scelsi noted, is a place where a pre-historic human culture survives. Scelsi's Songs (19) of the Capricorn, reduce the concept of "song" to poetically loaded vocal utterances imaginatively recalling the conditions of music and language in humankind's distant past. The pieces were composed for the extraordinary voice of Michiko Hirayama. Not merely an interpreter of the songs, Hirayama is truly their instrument. Her extended vocal techniques are both form and substance of the pieces; any new performer will have to scale the immense and vast geographies of her amazing technique. Scelsi worked closely with her to develop the songs over a ten-year span from 1962 -- 1972. That Scelsi's name still appears as the "composer" of the pieces is not a point of contention. Scelsi was theoretically interested in diminishing the role of a centralized, authoritarian ego in the creation of music. He referred to himself as a vessel, or medium, through which music passed, not as a "composer," a term he came to despise. Consequently, Scelsi based his compositional methods in improvisation and collaboration. With such methods, inspiration is a crucial variable. The word "inspiration" means a "taking-in"; it suggests the idea of possession, "taking-in" an alien spirit. The idea of the inspired artist, the religious possession ritual, and the musical performance all share this sense of a body taken over by some outside force, the divine madness of creativity and holiness. Hirayama certainly sounds euphorically possessed in the Canti del Capricorno. Through 18 of the 19 pieces (No. 19 is inexplicably for bass recorder) she howls, screams, groans, gargles, hisses, shouts, sings, and more, with a stupefying intensity. Her sound has been compared to "speaking in tongues," a spiritual phenomenon in which words are reduced to the level of poeticized and brutally significant vocal outbursts. Stupefying is also how strange the Canti are. It's possible that Scelsi's calculated naïveté actually allowed him to intuit in the Canti the conditions of language near the origin of human consciousness. That place is as alien now as another planet would be, and so Scelsi's Canti seem to come out of a stranegly supernatural and shamanistic space. ~ All Music Guide